How do people view their fellow man? It is amusing to see the different ways that we tend to categorize the people around us, how we force "types" of people into certain places and roles in our view of existence. Just how broad or narrow is that view? This depends on the individual person, of course. Our popular culture seems to represent both the widest and the narrowest minded among us. What is interesting to see is that often those "narrow-minded," or ignorant, viewpoints are the ones that seem to breed the most popular texts in our culture. In looking at the stereotypes surrounding the Native American culture, one of the most famous recent misinterpretations of this culture is in the Disney movie "Pocahontas.".
Disney's "Pocahontas" is a classic example of the way American Indians get romanticized in our culture, even today. From the beginning of the interactions between American Indians and the rest of the world, they were painted as "noble savages," these beautiful and exotic creatures who were at once screaming heathens and gentle protectorates of the land. While today's culture has moved towards a more realistic representation of Native peoples, still on occasion some text pops up that once again brings to mind old John Wayne westerns, with the savage Indians whooping and hollering and circling the wagon train.
It says a lot about our culture when we are willing to present such an inaccurate representation to children. Disney's "Pocahontas" has little or no bearing on the actual truth of the story, and as a historical reference it is far-fetched at best. Most of us know of or have seen the movie, and know of the "romance" between Pocahontas and John Smith, the dramatic interludes between Colonists and Pocahontas' tribe, and the comic antics of various characters within the story, including a talking tree and a pet raccoon.
This is not to say that the cartoon is not amusing and clever.